Posted by: Viki ZabalaMay 1, 2013
It’s been a memorable day for Fiksu, as we reached another notable milestone! As of April 30, 2013 – two years since our launch – the Fiksu Mobile App Marketing Platform has recorded its one hundred billionth app user action and has driven more than one billion app downloads. This data is critical to our ability to drive real-time mobile ad campaign optimization and deliver the high-performance marketing results that leading brands demand. It’s also the foundation of the Fiksu Indexes and our insights into the complex app marketing landscape.
In analyzing this month’s Index data, we found that the volume of daily downloads of the top 200 free iPhone apps and mobile app marketing costs remained steady in March – extending from February’s calm and consistent, yet valuable landscape.
We saw the Fiksu Cost per Loyal User Index increase by five percent, or seven cents, to $1.36, from February’s $1.29.
The Fiksu App Store Competitive Index dipped four percent, to 5.02 million daily downloads in March from February’s 5.20 million. Notably, this represents a 12 percent year-over-year increase from March 2012.
March’s “new normal” was good news for mobile app marketers. Inventory has increased but costs have held steady, reflecting a maturity in the overall quality of apps and their ability to engage users.
Beginning of the End for UDIDs
Despite the last few months of relative stability, marketers should always be prepared for the ebbs and flows within the app ecosystem. In fact, today is a notable day in that Apple’s recent announcement goes into effect: apps that access UDIDs will no longer be approved for the App Store. While apps that are already approved can continue to access the UDIDs for the time being, the majority of that traffic is shifting to the Advertising Identifier. The change comes as no surprise to app publishers who follow the industry, but it's still a significant step in the ongoing evolution of app marketing.
We've also seen Apple evolving its stance on apps used to promote other apps, and there have been some indications that the MAC address -- which has similar privacy concerns to the UDID, but has received much less attention -- could be the next tracking option to face Apple's scrutiny. We can expect the impact of these and other factors to start revealing themselves in next month’s April Index data and beyond.
Posted by: Craig PalliMarch 25, 2013
Last week, Apple announced that starting May 1, the App Store will no longer accept new apps or app updates that access UDIDs and that advertisers should use the Advertising Identifier instead. The announcement is concise and straightforward:
This is the final chapter in an ongoing transition away from UDIDs, and app marketers who have been following best-practice guidelines should be able to navigate the change without too much disruption.
The announcement by Apple wasn’t a complete surprise: during the iOS 5 Beta 6 in August 2011, they indicated that usage of the unique device identifier (UDID) for ad tracking wasn’t going to be around forever. Its replacement is the newer Advertising Identifier, which was introduced in iOS 6 and is often referred to as the Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA. Unlike UDIDs, it was designed for advertising use from the start. It gives users greater ability to control what publishers and advertisers know about their app use, and avoids many of the privacy concerns that hampered the UDID.
For some app developers and ad networks, the shift may create some short-term headaches as they scramble to hit the May 1st deadline. However, for most of the industry the announcement provides welcome clarity on App Store policy, eliminating confusion about which Apple ID to use for tracking advertising results.
In my view, this policy shift by Apple will pave the way for the industry to coalesce around the Advertising Identifier as the industry tracking standard for iOS. Given the strategic nature of the Apple App Store - 20 billion downloads in 2012 alone and over 800,000 apps - the shift to the Advertising Identifier is likely to occur rapidly.
Advertisers may also face inventory volume challenges as the transition takes place: until ad networks, publishers, and advertisers have all implemented support for the new system, some traffic won’t be accessible through the Advertising Identifier. It’s worth noting that digital fingerprinting provides a useful way to bridge this gap, if needed.
Get your updates in
Our recommendation for any developers using the UDID is to concentrate on getting a minimally viable update prepared and submitted for approval as soon as you can - one that includes as many tracking technologies as possible. You do not need to remove UDID support immediately -- Apple doesn’t say they’ll be removing apps that use it from the store, just that they won’t be approving any more.
At the bare minimum, your next app update should include both UDID and the Advertising Identifier, backed by a plan to incorporate additional technologies as soon as you can. In a perfect world you should incorporate all the major tracking options now, as well as make any needed updates to support the other part of Apple’s announcement: the requirement that all apps support the Retina display and the 4-inch display on the iPhone 5.
Getting this update in before the 5/1 deadline (preferably at least 2-3 weeks before) will buy you the time to make more comprehensive changes without a looming deadline, as well as maintaining your access to as many advertising opportunities as possible.
Fiksu offers the first and only platform in the industry that supports the Advertising Identifier, UDID, digital fingerprinting, HTML5 cookies, the Facebook Identifier, and MAC address tracking, along with the ability to turn any of those methods off remotely - without re-submitting to the App Store. This means that not only do we provide the traffic volume our clients demand and extremely accurate, in-depth tracking and reporting - we also let our clients stay on top of industry changes like this one.
Finally, Fiksu’s Glenn Kiladis, VP and GM of FreeMyApps, will be speaking on the state of ad tracking at GDC later this week. If you’re at the show, be sure to check out How Mobile Ad Tracking Impacts App Marketing Results at 12:30 on Wednesday, in room 302, South Hall.
Posted by: Viki ZabalaAugust 1, 2012
School’s out, and just as we saw last year, iPhone app downloads started increasing during the beginning of the summer months, causing App Store competition to heat up. Fiksu’s June Indexes reflect this trend, plus a significant rise in the costs of loyal user acquisition.
Here’s a snapshot of the latest data:
· The Fiksu App Store Competitive Index (which measures the average aggregate daily download volume of the top 200 free U.S. iPhone apps) increased to 4.63 million daily downloads in June, up 1.98 percent from May’s 4.54 million.
· The Fiksu Cost per Loyal User Index increased by 14.3 percent to $1.44, from $1.26 in May.
In June, there was a distinct shift in mobile app marketing spending behaviors. Unlike earlier months when marketers spent cautiously and assessed attribution options (as a result of Apple’s rumored transition away from the widely used UDID), June confidence and spending picked up again. In fact, we observed more brands resuming their use of UDID - as one of several attribution methods available - while following best practices regarding disclosure to ensure compliance with Apple’s privacy policies.
June’s Index data also reflected a quarter-end burst in mobile advertising campaign spending as brands sought to deplete remaining Q2 budgets.
Thanks to all who covered this month’s Index data, including Mike Minotti of VentureBeat, Alex Spencer of Mobile Marketing UK, Jason Ankeny of FierceMobileContent, and Michael Essany of Mobile Marketing Watch.
Posted by: Viki ZabalaJune 19, 2012
Buzz surrounding Apple’s 2012 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) has dominated headlines since the highly anticipated keynote which drew attendees from 160 countries to the Moscone Center in San Francisco to learn about the new gadgetry and software Tim Cook and Co. have lined up for Apple lovers worldwide.Though the iPhone 5 remained elusive, and the company did not unveil a UDID alternative despite wide speculation before the show, Apple did reveal its brand new iOS 6. Read on for more…
During the WWDC keynote, Apple's iOS chief Scott Forstall revealed some pretty impressive numbers: 365 million iOS devices have been sold since June 2007 and 80 percent of iOS devices are running on iOS 5—the most up-to-date version currently available. In comparison, Android 4.0 adoption figures stand at about seven percent.
Apple’s iOS 6 brings 200 new features to the iPhone and iPad, including a smarter Siri, integrated with content partners that make “her” smarter on topics such as sports, restaurants and movies; Facetime without Wi-Fi; and more personalization options. “The latest version of iOS keeps the pressure on mobile competitors even as Android and Windows Phone ready their own updates to their respective operating systems, reports Roger Cheng of CNET.“While Android long ago overtook iOS as the most popular mobile operating system, Apple's platform continues to be the one that draws in the most attractive mix of affluent customers and top-tier developers.” Here, CNET drills down into the details, comparing Apple’s iOS 6 to Android 4.0 and Windows Phone 7.6.
During the unveil of iOS 6, audiences were given a preview of the mobile App Store’s new design which underwent some “major polishing.” But GigaOM’s Erica Ogg writes,“The bigger question is, besides design and usability features, what has Apple done to improve search and discovery?”
And though many WWDC announcements left audiences oohing and ahhing, The Washington Post reports that many were left wondering if Apple is “saving real fireworks for later.” However, contributor Josh Topolsky writes, “…one element of [Apple’s] consistency that stands out among the rest: its unique ability to make the competition look like yesterday’s news.”
Posted by: Craig PalliJune 8, 2012
Wall Street Journal View on Privacy – Some Food for Thought
A recent Wall Street Journal article – Ad Networks Bypass iPhone Privacy Rules – criticized two UDID-less attribution methods – ODIN and OpenUDID – as potentially opening doors for privacy issues. The article has prompted discussions across the mobile advertising industry, and has the potential to generate further uncertainty and confusion during a period when the mobile industry is working very hard to transition away from the UDID.
Here at Fiksu, we’ve been vocal about this evolving topic, and while we have a different perspective than the WSJ authors on privacy risks associated with ODIN and OpenUDID, we recognize that many brands have serious concerns. We’d like to offer additional commentary that did not make the story.
First and foremost, the article implies that “tracking” is synonymous with the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) – which is simply not the case. In fact, IDs for both ODIN and OpenUDID methods are NOT linked to PII at all. In addition, OpenUDID has no link to the hardware device. There are other safeguards in place to protect consumers with these methods – OpenUDID has an opt-out mechanism, for example.
There are other available attribution methods that do not share IDs across apps that were overlooked in this piece. Cookies are private and non-shareable on iOS, and digital fingerprinting does not utilize an ID at all – it instead uses combinations of non-unique attributes of the device such as IP address and header information to statistically estimate conversions.
Ideally, a single solution supported by Apple would be the best method for mobile marketers. Some have even speculated that Apple will unveil a UDID alternative during its highly anticipated WWDC 2012, taking place next week in San Francisco. But for now, each available attribution technology on the market has its limitations.
We recently introduced our iOS SDK Version 2.0 to help our customers future-proof their businesses and reach the broadest range of mobile network and traffic sources, while effectively balancing consumer privacy. We realize that some attribution methods available today could be potentially scrutinized, so we’ve opted to support the broadest range of methods possible including and beyond the UDID. This gives organizations the freedom to disable any methods they may not be comfortable with. And as marketing dynamics continue to rapidly evolve, our SDK enables marketers to change supported forms of attribution as needed.
If you are interested in learning more about SDK Version 2.0, please join us for a free webinar, "Marketing Attribution – Beyond the UDID" on Friday, June 15 at 11:00 a.m. EST. To register, visit http://www.fiksu.com/resources/webinars/marketing-attribution-beyond-udid.
Boston’s Inaugural Women in Wireless Roundtable Draws Crowd, Explores Privacy and the Mobile LandscapePosted by: Viki ZabalaMay 7, 2012
The Cambridge Innovation Center saw a packed house last week for a lively panel discussion – Mobile Advertising Today and a Vision for the Future: Lessons Learned in Attribution, Measurement and Privacy – hosted by Women in Wireless and Girls in Tech.
Smartphone users are sharing more and more information via mobile apps than ever before. From music preferences to geolocation and photo sharing, the question of privacy and what is being done with personal information is top-of-mind for everyone across the mobile industry.
Fiksu’s Jo Wightman participated in the discussion on challenges of privacy in the mobile industry alongside Ash Nadkarni, co-founder, App Guppy; Adam Towvim, vice president, business development, Jumptap; and Johnny Won, mobile and gaming platforms manager, Hill Holliday. The panel was moderated by Vicky Wu Davis, CEO and founder of FrogHop Inc.
The group explored a series of thought-provoking questions around Apple’s recent deprecation of UDIDs and current alternatives being proposed in the market. Roundtable members also observed how many in the industry are reacting to this major change and wondering how tracking can exist in the realm of privacy protection.
The event kicked off with a networking session, providing an opportunity for industry peers to meet, mingle and discuss innovative ways to tackle some of the most pressing issues impacting mobile brands and businesses today.
The event, sponsored by Fiksu, marked the debut of the soon-to-launch Boston chapter of Women in Wireless, an organization that promotes and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media. Girls in Tech is a global non-profit organization and social network enterprise focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology.
Posted by: Craig PalliApril 17, 2012
It’s no secret that the UDID has been a topic of controversy in recent weeks. Recent reports that Apple is rejecting some apps that utilize the UDID have generated significant levels of confusion and debate. Exacerbating matters are conflicting reports and escalating rumors of what apps Apple is or is not approving leaving app developers and marketers struggling to answer the question of how best to grow their business in the face of UDID deprecation.
Our goal in this post is to fill you in on what the current situation is – what is known fact, what is rumor, and finally, to answer the question: “what’s an app marketer to do?” as our industry progresses beyond the UDID.
Apple announced its plans to deprecate (retire) the UDID last August. Based on past Apple history, many in the industry interpreted this as an early warning, so UDID alternatives have not progressed much until recently. It now appears that Apple is increasingly utilizing the app approval process to influence UDID usage and how such usage is communicated to consumers.
The difficulty for developers is knowing what is and is not acceptable to Apple relative to UDIDs.
Kim-Mai Cutler of TechCrunch, who originally broke the news, about apps being rejected clarified what is acceptable in a subsequent posting. She cited the current confusion in the market, and provided an example of an actual rejection, in which Apple cites the use of UDIDs without disclosure as the cause for the rejection. She further notes that some apps are still getting through the approval process, even if they access UDIDs. “The distinction is that they need to disclose this fact to users and ask for permission.”
Getting Apps Approved - Strategies for Success
Flurry has also done a similar client audit, and VP of marketing, Peter Farago, was quoted as saying, “There is literally not one developer’s app that we could find that had a rejection due to UDID alone.”
So What Does This Mean for Mobile App Marketers?
It’s increasingly clear that the UDID is on its way out. What’s not yet clear is the exact timeline for elimination, which technologies are going to replace it and which will receive widest adoption. As such, savvy marketers need to manage multiple technologies during this difficult transitional stage.
Here is a review of the major technologies currently being proposed in the market:
- HTML5 1st Party Cookie Tracking: This technique tracks ad performance by setting the Safari equivalent of a first party cookie. This results in accurate ad attribution with no room for ambiguity. Cookies are not device identifiers and cannot be shared with other apps. This method has the advantage of being the mobile equivalent of a commonly used and widely accepted web tracking solution, and does a good job of balancing the need for ad performance attribution with user privacy. Because it provides a direct link between clicks, installs and post-install events, it is well-suited for identifying ad sources that attract loyal users. Its major drawback is a redirect to a Safari page on the first launch of the app, which shows up as a short animated flash. It should also be noted that such an experience may be branded and integrated into the user experience. Cookie tracking is an effective solution for those focused on getting the best quality attribution for measuring ROI on media spend.
- Digital Fingerprinting: This technology matches attributes such as a user’s IP address, OS level and other data to “fingerprint” the user and statistically estimate conversions. For example, if a particular IP address clicks on an ad for an app, and then the same IP address creates an install of that app 60 seconds later, chances are good the user who clicked and the user who installed the app are one and the same. Where this gets tricky is that the data points used are not unique and can change, so there can be errors. Though this method works well for tracking simple conversions, it is not sufficiently reliable for tracking post-install events, which are critical to identifying ad sources that generate high quality, loyal users.
- MAC Address Tracking: A number of ad networks have viewed substituting the UDID with another unique identifier tied to the hardware device, the MAC Address. Some variants encrypt the address or use it as a key. The major benefit of this method is that it requires minimal change to existing infrastructure – MAC Addresses are handled in a similar manner to UDIDs. Many in the market believe that MAC Addresses carry similar privacy issues as the UDID and thus are not viewed as a long-term solution.
- OpenUDID and SecureUDID: These are technologies that offer open source implementations, a unique id, and the promise of an explicit opt-out for users. These implementations utilize the device copy/paste buffer as the location for storing this ID. Since the copy/paste buffer wasn’t intended for long-term storage, there is concern that this method may ultimately be frowned upon by Apple, but there appears to be support amongst some of the ad networks for these methods.
What’s the Right Choice?
Each of the methods above has advantages and drawbacks. Some vendors have lined up behind particular technologies and are pushing them hard as the best choice. Ideally, a single solution supported by Apple would be the best solution.
Very recently rumors have been circulating that Apple will not fully deprecate UDIDs until the launch of iOS 6, and at that time advocate a first party cookie option. But this is unconfirmed. Even if accurate, developers still need alternate solutions between now and then.
Ultimately it is the availability of traffic on the ad networks, and the corresponding technologies chosen by the networks that may drive decisions for developers.
How Are Ad Networks Voting?
Most app developers we speak to hope for one solution that will be widely adopted by the ad networks.
Fiksu works with more than 35 networks covering 90 percent of available impressions and has been actively surveying the market.
Right now, the ad networks are extremely fragmented on the best way forward. Some are taking a “wait and see” approach. Some have already invested time and effort in support of the MAC option. A number have implemented or have committed to providing changes needed for cookie tracking, and there has also been some support expressed for OpenUDID. Finally, a few are even supporting multiple technologies.
Given this state of fragmentation, we expect to see continued evolution and change across the iOS ecosystem in the coming months. As a result, finding the right mix of tracking and attribution – while ensuring sufficient market reach – has become much more difficult for marketers.
So What’s an App Marketer to Do?
First, app marketers should contact the networks or vendors they partner with, and understand what SDK changes they need to implement in order to move beyond the UDID.
For the short term, developers who want to maximize available traffic should continue to support the UDID. Despite the numerous technology and tracking announcements, the reality is that most traffic available on the market today utilizes UDID tracking – it is going to take the ad networks and the publisher sites time to settle on new solutions and to implement them.
Developers should at the same time be reviewing their ad partnerships and determine the impact to their code.
Ultimately this will be a difficult transitional stage, but one which will leave the industry with stronger user protections.
Fiksu’s Plans – Provide Full Coverage
To ensure we stay ahead of these market changes and to provide our clients with the widest range of traffic, Fiksu is rolling out a multi-prong solution, one that balances consumer privacy with the market need to attribute ad spend to identify the most profitable sources of downloads.
Rather than limit capabilities or reach by mandating use of one particular technology, we will provide a range of solutions including:
- HTML5 First Party Cookies;
- Digital Fingerprinting;
- MAC Address attribution;
- OpenUDID and SecureUDID initiatives.
Clients will have access to all of these methods, eliminating difficult decisions and tradeoffs. This will enable us to maximize reach, support the widest variety of ad networks and meet our clients’ specific needs. Stay tuned for more soon as our industry moves beyond the UDID.
Posted by: Micah AdlerAugust 26, 2011
Recent news on TechCrunch and TUAW about Apple’s iOS 5 beta release 6 on Friday sent out a ripple across the app development world. Apple stated that, over time, it is going to be phasing out – “deprecating” – UDIDs, the unique identifiers that have long been used by developers as a consistent identifier of a mobile iOS device.
It is important to note - deprecation does not mean elimination! It simply is a warning to developers that at some point in the future, this functionality might no longer exist. Specifically, UDIDs will be deprecated, but still available, in the release of iOS 5.0, which is expected some time this fall.
Furthermore, Apple is clearly trying to communicate its intentions on this topic well in advance to the app development community, and is giving developers ample time to phase in alternative solutions. Thus, we do not expect Apple to make immediate changes to developer's access to UDIDs within the next several months.
UDID based tracking helps developers understand app usage. And just as important, UDIDs enable developers to attribute an app download to the source of that download. With this stated, Fiksu plans on keeping our community abreast as more developments on these changes unfold.